I read in the newspaper this week that the Slinky is turning 70! Cool, huh? This iconic toy was invented in nearby Philadelphia by a gentleman by the name of Richard James, an engineer at the Cramp Shipbuilding Company. Apparently, Mr James invented the Slinky quite by accident. He was attempting to devise a spring that would hold sensitive shipboard equipment stable during rough seas when he knocked one of the reject springs off a shelf. It flounced about the floor for a bit and Jim had enough imagination to see an opportunity.
We spent many days playing with Slinkys when I was little and my own children had them too. When I think of them I am hit with dozens of memories of us building ramps and steps out of books just to see what tricks we could get the Slinky to do!
Isn’t it funny that when you think about the toys you played with as a child, it’s not just the item you remember but the wonderful way it made you feel. Life was so exciting when the whole world of your imagination was open to you! My friend Donna and I would spend hours playing Barbies or paper dolls inventing entire lives for them complete with jobs, pets and boyfriends! She had a Barbie Camper so they often went on road trips, usually to see The Monkees in concert. We had a thing for Mickey Dolenz and Peter Tork back then. The best Christmas ever was the year I received both Quick Curl Barbie and Mod Hair Ken!! He had stick on facial hair! Hard to beat that.
Dolls were always my favorite things to play with and it wasn’t just Barbie. The 1970s produced a plethora of weird and wonderful dolls.
One that I really loved was Dawn. She and her friends were like mini Barbies with various shoes and outfits. I even had a fashion show stage for her. You basically stuck her little foot in a little vice and then cranked a handle moving a track around the stage. It sent her for a spin than brought her back. Very low tech.
Then there was Mrs Beasley from Family Affair. Anybody remember her? She talked!
I also had Growing Hair Kerry, the doll whose hair expanded out the top of her head then retracted when you pushed her belly button. Nothing weird about that. She had a bunch of outfits too (I’m beginning to think my older sisters were right-I was spoiled!)
Of course if you wanted a truly weird and disturbing doll it would have been Little Miss No Name, the poor orphan doll with the glued on tear drop. Her box reads, “please take me home and wipe my tear away.” Yikes! Who thought up this one? Not only is this sad little girl wearing a burlap bag, her eyes make her look like a zombie! Can’t imagine why I wanted her so bad. I do, however, remember that her tear drop fell off and got lost within the first week. Guess she got her wish. 😌
I played with other toys too; wooden blocks, puzzles, the Easy Bake Oven, but the dolls were always my favorite. Whenever I come across one of them now, at a yard sale or antique store (those Mrs Beasleys are very collectible by the way) I get all misty eyed. I miss playing dolls with Miss Dee. I guess I’ll just have to wait for the babies in the family to grow up a bit more. In the meantime, I can get them all Slinkys!
Tell me about your favorite toy.
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